It is important to use a feeder to reduce waste.
Round bales are a common bale type in Minnesota. Past research has focused on reducing round bale waste associated with proper storage (stored inside or tarped on a pallet).
Research recently conducted at Texas Tech evaluated waste associated with feeding round bales. Both alfalfa and grass round bales were fed with and without a round bale feeder.
The alfalfa round bales fed with a feeder had a 9.1% loss, compared to a 31.5% loss without a feeder. The grass round bales fed with a feeder had a 1.8% loss, compared to a 38.1% loss without a feeder.
As with feeding any bale type, some loss is expected. It is not clear why there is a difference is loss when comparing alfalfa and grass. The round bales fed in a feeder lasted 8 to 9 days, compared to only 6 days without a feeder. The reduction in days is a reflection of the increased waste that was either soiled by manure and urine or trampled, and was no longer suitable for consumption.
This research may not be surprising, but draws attention to the importance of using a feeder when feeding round bales.